Many local residents have fond memories of picking fresh, ripe strawberries at Crum Strawberry Farm on Marion-Edison Road.
“I remember going out there every year as kids. My brother would pick one for him and then one for the basket,” said Kristi Butler of Marion. “I miss that place!”
“My mom used to take me every year to pick strawberries. The ladies always joked they were going to weigh me on the way in and out and charge her the difference because the berries would never make it into the basket!” said Mari Henderson of Marion.
Owner Howard Crum, 79, was born in Marion and grew up on local farms. His father, Edward Crum, bought farmland three miles east of Marion in 1946. They raised hogs, cattle, and grain on 150 acres.
Crum graduated from Claridon School in 1960 which offered first through twelfth grades. He married fellow graduate Carol Laucher in 1963. Carol earned her nursing degree at Mt. Carmel. Howard graduated from The Ohio State University. They lived in Columbus but always wanted to return home.
“I always wanted to farm. There wasn’t any doubt about that. I had the opportunity because of my dad’s hard work,” Crum said.
After Edward Crum died in 1973, Howard and Carol Crum took over the family farm and decided to grow strawberries. Local kids, family members, and friends helped plant the first three acres of strawberries and weeded them by hand. When the first crop of strawberries arrived in June 1975, local families lined up to pick their own delicious berries.
Crum expanded his strawberry plants to 18 acres. As demand fell in the 1980s, Crum found new ways to sell them. He put a wagon in the Sears parking lot at the mall. That was so popular, Crum added two wagons in Marion as well as Bucyrus, Delaware, and Mansfield.
“I always looked forward to seeing the Crum’s strawberry wagon. You knew summer was here!” said Cheryl Seiter Kelley of Marion.
In 1990, Crum was one of the original farmers to start the Worthington Farmers Market on North High Street. They attended others in Granville, New Albany, Newark, and Upper Arlington.
Crum said the farming was hard work but it was worthwhile.
“We paid for the farm and put the kids through college. It was a real joy to raise the crops!” Crum said.
In addition to the strawberries, they had 30 acres of sweet corn they picked by hand.
“We started picking the earliest sweet corn in July and never missed a day of picking until it froze in October,” Crum said. “We were very busy!”
In addition, they raised tomatoes, watermelon, musk melon, red raspberries, pumpkin, and squash. The Crums’ three daughters all worked the farm, as well as dozens of local teens over the years. For 30 years, Ed and Stela Cavazos Jr. made the trip from Texas each spring to help with the farm work and stayed until late fall. They were invaluable help and loved dearly.
“It was a lot of work and we had a lot of help. All of the people who would work for us felt like family. They were just exceptional,” Crum said. “I see kids nowadays that worked for us. They all say it was one of their best experiences to work out here. It was hot, dirty, and tough, but once they were a ‘dirt dog,’ they were always a ‘dirt dog.’”
After farming for 45 years and driving a school bus for River Valley for 37 years, Crum retired in 2019. Their daughters graduated from River Valley, finished college, and focused on careers and families. Cris McElroy lives in Prospect. Cathy Harman on the dairy farm where Carol Crum grew up and Carrie Block lives next door. The Crums also have seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“Living on a strawberry farm with my family was the most wonderful way to grow up. Everyone should be so lucky!” said Carrie Crum Block.
This MarionMade! family has made sweet memories for generations.